|Top of the Hill||Boots and Blisters||Business as Usual:Meeting Minutes|
|Top of the Hill||by Tony Gaier, President|
Last month we had 5 people attend the land navigation evaluation. Everyone passed the evaluation. Congratulations to all! The last scheduled land navigation evaluation for the year is November 20th. Fourteen people still require this evaluation.
There is a litter handling evaluation planned for this month, it will be on the 18th. If you plan to attend this evaluation, please leave a voice message on the hotline by Friday the 16th. The last scheduled search techniques evaluation will be October 22nd. Nine people still require this evaluation.
Now is the time to start thinking about officer nominations. Normally, nominations start at the October business meeting and close at the November meeting. So if you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Cibola officer, please attend one of the meetings to nominate your candidate.
|Boots and Blisters||by Mike Dugger, Training Officer|
The training schedule for September and October had to be modified from what was published at the beginning of the year to accommodate other organizations offering training for us. On September 10th, we will have a summer bivy as the last days of summer are now upon us. Steve Buckley will lead a group to the Pecos wilderness for an overnight stay. Members can meet at 12:00 PM on Saturday, September 10, at Steve Buckley's house to carpool or at the Iron Gate parking area in the Pecos at 2:00 PM for those who wish to drive themselves. Those planning to attend should contact Steve directly via cell phone to coordinate transportation. I suggest that everyone take along their medical kit and during the afternoon sit together and show one another what you carry and why. There may be some provisions carried by one of us that others would like to know about. The trip will involve a hike of about 4 miles one-way to the bivy location, and there will be many opportunities to fish. Attendees should be back in Albuquerque by about noon on Sunday, even after a rather leisurely start to the hike out that morning.
Next month, on October 8th, we will have a four-wheel drive training. The New Mexico Four Wheelers will take us into some challenging terrain near the airport and help us get the most out of our four-wheel drive vehicles. This has always been a terrific training, and this year's four-wheel drive training should be great as well.
|Business as Usual:Meeting Minutes||by Aidan Thompson, Secretary|
The meeting ended at 21:00.
|South Truchas Peak Trip, 2-3 Sep 2005||by Steve Buckley|
Since several members expressed interest in this trip, I wanted to take the time to report on my trip to South Truchas Peak on Labor Day weekend. My route started at Jacks Creek Trailhead (all coordinates are in NAD 27, 13 S 0440883, 3965566, 8,818 feet) on Friday, 2 September at noon. The trailhead already had several cars in it. The parking fee is $2/day and the trailhead is located with a campground and horse camp. I felt that my truck was pretty safe due to the proximity to the horse camp and the fact that my truck is ugly, old, and not on the "high theft" list. I do believe that someone siphoned gas out of my tank. I have no evidence, but I pulled in with my tank just under 3/4 full, added 5 gallons of gas from my gas can in the truck bed (I didn't want to leave gas in the truck bed thinking it was too tempting), and headed up the trail. When I returned I started my truck and noticed I had 3/4 of a tank of gas. You do the math. Nothing else seemed to be disturbed. Locking gas tanks might be a good idea.
Jacks Creek Trail (TR 257) begins with about a mile long climb that parallels the campgrounds. It follows several switchbacks (I saw a small coyote cross the trail on one switchback), joining up with the horse trail a little over a mile up the trail. The horse trail starts a hundred yards to the east of the hiker's trail and is straighter and steeper that the hiker's trail. After both trails join, the trail climbs steadily until it joins the trail to Beatty flats (TR 25). Bear left through a nice aspen grove. There are several large logs just past the trail junction. This is a good place for a breather. The trail bends northward and enters a large grassy area. These grass fields are sometimes called "parks" by the local people. Speaking of "locals", you might run into a small herd of cows in this park. The trail crosses this park with only a slight uphill grade. I passed through a short section of forest and entered another park. This one is next to a small round hill called Round Mountain (10,809 feet). The trail passes to the west of this obvious landmark, enters a small wooded section, and crosses Jacks Creek. This is another good place for a breather.
The trail continues northward and steadily climbs about 2 1/2 miles to Pecos Baldy Lake. A thunderstorm had just passed over this trail and it was covered by pea-sized hail. This lake is a great place to camp. I met two younger men at the lake who planned to camp there that night. There are small fish in the lake and the area on the south side of the lake provides excellent camping. The best fishing looks to be on the north side of the lake. I spent about 45 minutes eating and resting by this great little lake.
I took a side trail (TR 164) over the pass just north of the lake and traveled cross-country across a broad stretch of alpine grass to join with the Skyline Trail (TR 251). This trail is a great trail that has a very descriptive name. It follows a long rolling ridge covered with short alpine grass for at least 2 1/2 miles. The trail is marked with large rock cairns carefully constructed and as tall as I am. I passed at least 7 of these markers. I arrived at my chosen base camp about 7 p.m. after a strenuous hike. I estimate this slog is at least 10 miles long and climbs 3,000 feet. My base camp was located at 13 S 0442303, 3978268, 11,825 feet. This camp was about 1 mile from the peak.
I pitched my small tent on alpine grass just short of a small group of trees. There were many rainstorms in the area and the light rain that I experienced during most of my hike got heavier. I made short work of setting up my tent and settled down for the night. I only brought a light down bag (45 degree rating). I planned to use my bivy sack in the tent to get a little more range out of that bag. This worked great until I rolled out of the bivy in the middle of the night. On the gear side, a Velcro tab on the zipper positioned so I could zip the bivy sack at chin level would have stopped the zipper from opening and my bivy sack/light bag combo would have worked great.
I measured 40 degrees in the tent and 30 degrees outside at about 5 in the morning. I packed some basic safety gear in my pack and headed up the trail as the east started to get light (5:45 a.m.) under an incredible starry sky and the loud serenading from several coyotes. This type of sky is only available in the mountains, at altitude, on cool/cold nights...magnificent! I climbed up through a small grove of evergreens on an established trail until I topped out on a knob of alpine grass at about 12,200 feet. There were several trails on this knob and three salt blocks placed there for the big horn sheep. I crossed the knob and started up a rocky hill just as the weather started to change.
It got colder and the mountain became covered in a cloud. I started up this rocky hill (Class 2 with lots of places to twist an ankle on the boulder field) in the cloud just as the Sun rose. I followed a rough trail marked by stone cairns to the summit of this rocky hill (12,620 feet). I had intended to skirt the summit of this hill and enter a saddle at 12,400 feet which would allow access to the last 700-foot climb to the summit. When I got to the summit of the rocky hill, I could not see very far and what I saw was jagged rocks and drop-offs. I noted the disk of the Sun through the cloud and got a bearing on the saddle location (to the NW of my location). I pulled out the map and GPS and marked my location roughly on the map. I had left my interpolator in my other map case and had to estimate the location on the map. This was not hard as I knew where I was and my calibrated eyeball got me within 100 meters. I walked towards the saddle and caught a glimpse of the mountain through a break in the cloud. The view startled me. I had climbed to that point in cloud and the last view of the mountain I had was at least a half-mile further away. The view I got through the clouds was immense, rocky, and steep.
I had been a little worried about this last 700-foot climb from the saddle to the summit. In my mind I named it "Last Push" and was concerned with its rocky nature and steep climb when I surveyed it from base camp. The glimpse through the clouds did nothing to alleviate my concern that it might be too rough to solo safely (always nice to have someone to splint my leg, stop the bleeding, and call SAR for help). I picked my way to the saddle and looked up at the mountain as it started to clear. I could see the entire expanse of Last Push and felt that it looked rough but doable. I noticed three juvenile big horn sheep rams on a ledge about 500 feet above me and decided if they could do it so could I.
This foolish thought must have been a product of the rarified air as the sheep demonstrated that they could climb much better and faster than me by climbing down to me and demanding any Frito-Lay product in exchange for safe passage. I lectured them on the follies of hooliganism, told them I did not pay tribute, and they took off in a huff just like any other teenager would.
Now is a good time to discuss the sheep. I don't know why they call this mountain "Truchas" (Spanish for "trout"). They should rename it "Sheep" mountain. This mountain is covered in sheep trails (more on this later), sheep dung, and a fair number of sheep. As is usually the case, they are very friendly. They are the friendliest large game animals I have ever seen. They crave salt and there is a sign at Pecos Baldy Lake that directs that you keep your distance and do not feed them. I think this is excellent advice as the rams look like they could smash your hip and not need aspirin. You will require aspirin and a litter haul of at least 7 miles to safety. In any case, bring a camera and keep it ready for some world-class photos of big game.
As I climbed Last Push, I realized that it looked a lot easier from 10 feet than it did from 2,500 feet. That is a good thing since I could only see about 20 feet. There is a pretty good trail to the top and the only real hazard was the cloud made it impossible to do some route finding and pick the best path. There are several 100 foot plus sheer cliffs on this face so slow and steady is the way to go.
I arrived at the top at 8 a.m. in a cloud that cleared in about 5 minutes (God was timing the clouds for dramatic effect. It was pretty cool the way the clouds enhanced this climb.) The coordinates for the peak are 13 S 0441888, 3979778, 13,102 feet. I was able to take good photos of the routes to Middle Truchas Peak and North Truchas Peaks. Middle Truchas Peak looked pretty easy but I felt that the best way to summit North Truchas Peak was via Truchas Lake or from the north (as I did several years ago). I decided that the weather was iffy enough that I would leave Middle Truchas Peak as an excuse to do this trip again.
I spent 30 minutes on the top, called my wife and parents, and started down following a sheep trail. That was my biggest mistake. I hoped to skirt the summit of the rocky hill and save myself some climbing. The trail went the right way but ended up in a sheer rocky draw that was no doubt easy for sheep but not for me. I was forced to do the only Class 3 climbing of the trip to get around this obstacle. I climbed down to my tent, packed my stuff, and headed out at 11 a.m. The weather started to get worse with scattered rain and lightning. I slogged the 10+ miles out to the trailhead arriving at 5 p.m.
In summary, this was a great trip full of spectacular views and lusty weather. Fortunately, I never got really rained on as that could have ruined the trip. Doing this trip solo also added an interesting element. I hiked at my speed, pretty slow sometimes, and had to take extra care to ensure I did not get injured as I was out of radio or phone coverage for most of the trip. I did brief my son on my exact route and did not deviate at all from that route. I got a chance to stand on the roof of the Pecos wilderness, got a great workout, got some pertinent training for my future climbing plans, and had a great time.
|Disclaimer and Copyright notice||the Editors|